I read with great concern the HUSD proposal to cut 31 special education aides. Allow me just a few words to explain why such a cut is unwise and potentially quite costly.


Special Education is governed by Federal Law and HUSD, like all districts, must provide an "appropriate education" to each special education student. Aides for special education students provide the minimal amount of support necessary to reach the level of an "appropriate education." Cutting any one of these aides will put the students they assist in jeopardy of following below the federally mandated level of an "appropriate" education. When the level of education is not appropriate, parents of special education students are entitled to challenge the District's educational program in the Individual Education Plan (IEP) process. Challenging the District can include a formal "due process" hearing. These hearings are quite costly for the District because Federal law requires the District, upon request of the parent, to hire an independent evaluator (typically a licensed psychologist) to assist the parent. Furthermore, the District must retain lawyers to represent it in the hearing that can last many hours if not days. If the proposed cuts are implemented, I would fully expect most parents of special education students who lose their aid to file due process claims if the IEP process proves unhelpful. In short, the District needs to think more deeply about the economic impact of cutting such aides.


I have so far left out the more obvious reason not to cut such aides. These aides, and I know several, are some of the most dedicated people I know and work under difficult circumstances to make an impact on a child's life, a child who faces overwhelming challenges. Why would the District cut resources from children who have already been challenged in ways most could never comprehend? Really, in a District as large as HUSD with a hundred million dollar budget the only way to save 2.8 million dollars is to take from children who have already had so much taken from them? Please think more deeply.